Minneapolis City Council to hold hearings on forming municipal utility

Hailey Colwell

 

The Minneapolis City council voted Friday to hold public hearings on forming a municipal utility — which would mean cutting the city’s ties with Xcel Energy Inc. and CenterPoint Energy.

These hearings could lead to a ballot question to create city-owned electric and gas utilities, which would be voted on in November, the Star Tribune reported.

The council also agreed to fund a $250,000 study to explore that idea and other choices the city could make to reach its renewable energy goals when its 20-year contacts with Xcel and CenterPoint expire in 2014. 

Though language for the ballot measure would be drafted before the Aug. 1 hearings, Council Member Cam Gordon said voter approval will not oblige the city to municipalize, according to the Tribune article.

“Let’s … see what voters think,” Gordon said.

Council President Barb Johnson questioned whether abandoning current providers is logical, citing the recent storms that caused power outages across the Twin Cities — which she said Xcel responded to by sending out 1,000 repair trucks.

“Where would we come up with 1,000 trucks?” she said in the Tribune article. “Where would we come up with 500 trucks?”

Plans for the hearings came as a relief to Minneapolis Energy Options campaigners, who have approached neighborhood committees and political organizations for the past few months, asking them to push for the ballot measure.

“This public hearing is a crucial step toward a better energy future,” said campaign coordinator Dylan Kesti in an MEO press release.

Developing an energy system owned and operated by the city would make utilities cleaner and more affordable, Kesti said.

“We’ve got nothing to lose by keeping all options on the table.”